Late night talks with Ben

Challenges: Senior year

These late, late night chats, when my 17 year old, senior year child drops down on the sofa, pressing tight against my arm looking over saying, “I get to fill next year full of new people, places and choices. (Still and silent pause) I get to choose what and who to edit out. (Silence and staring outward.) So much is changing next year, I’m suppose to know. What if I get it wrong, what if I’m choosing the wrong path? (college department) Are there enough choices within Tech?”

We go back and forth on career options.

“Mama, I will not enjoy my job if I’m sitting behind a desk without interaction with people. I need to interface, problem solve…you know…work it out, figure out solutions, wrong or right. Maybe I lead, maybe I don’t. I know I have to be part of the solution, you know a team. I can’t sit at a desk staring at a computer within a cubicle. I need to do.
What if I get it wrong, I will be miserable. I’m really scared. I’m sort of both sick and excited.”

Here’s what I told him:

“Well…what if you do “get it wrong”?  What if?  Would it be so horrible if you had to start again? No. It will not. 

You are only 17. It would be horrible, if you didn’t feel this sense of uncertainty.”

Here’s what I know, Ben:

“Uncertainty is a healthy reminder to be aware of opportunities and your choices. You will soar and you will stumble. If you never fail or sense fear, you will never realize your abilities to rise to situation at hand. Those qualities to figure out how to overcome the challenges stem from experience.

What if” is only a matter of possibilities. Sometimes you will choose but often times, life will choose for you. It’s how you respond, when facing those roadblocks. What you choose to do with forks in the road.
These occasions will strengthen your determination, they will build your confidence. These ongoing choices will determine your ability to persevere.

Change is ongoing. It is evolution of setbacks and achievements, which will bring forth pivotal growth and forge character by trial. You will grow into yourself every year a little better than the last.

Trial and error, proves what I already know: you are not perfect, you are not finished, you are a wonderful work in progress.

I am not afraid for you, son. I am excited to watch you discover those gifts within yourself. The essence of your character which will unfold everyday in unique and mundane ways.

I’ve been watching your determination build since your first struggle to crawl towards walking then into running. You were not afraid to struggle. You never stopped in the face of obstacles. You innately conquered through puzzling out ways around, over or through.

As a toddler, you were are already building a strong foundation for your purpose. Evolving with each choice, with every step as you struggled through every encountered opportunity and each successful failure. These experiences formed you into a capable functioning person.

Failure is never negative, its very nature will open different avenues of discovery. Alternate paths brought forth to consider when one choice was not the best direction to walk towards obtaining a goal.
Struggle is not harmful, it is a positive experience. It showcases effort and perseverance which  you will appreciate upon arrival at your destination.

Ben, remember those books by Shel Silverstein, we read to you? I remember a quote, about how to get through what you are feeling. It is what we all feel everyday at every age, even Daddy and I struggle with it at 49.”

“There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
‘I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you — just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”
— Falling Up, Shel Silverstein.

Smiling, my son turned to say,  “Mama, Shel Silverstein said the same thing you just said in a thousand words and 15 minutes less!”

I rolled my eyes at him. My child rolled his eyes back at me, while smirking, my son told me he loves me. Leaning against my arm with his tucked under my elbow, he murmured “I get it”.  A quick hug and buss on my cheek, he’s walking off towards his bed, saying, “still scared, Mama.”
Less than 10 seconds later, My son stuck his head back through the door way, pointed at me, saying, “I hope my brother appreciates my struggles when his senior year Mother talks are 1 hour and 15 minutes shorter.” Laughing he pauses to tell me, again: “I love you, Mama.”

(Little turkey. I hope he has all girls.)

Things my eldest son has taught me:

I believe this has been the fastest passing year, since his first year of life. I have never been more challenged as a parent to be silent and just listen than ever before in his life. He knows I am here. He is teaching me so much about himself in his own way, while assuring me, I can let him go.

He will be fine.

–Joanne Roth Marino